Restoring my faith in the future

I feel better now. Thank you, Jessica DaSilva. You've restored at least some of my faith in the future.

I had a bad day yesterday: a series of depressing interactions with a few people who reminded me just how narrow-minded, corrosively negative, self-destructive and ultimately hypocritical some newspaper journalists can be.

It didn't help that I'd just had a tooth pulled. By the end of the day I was pretty well soured on the newspaper business.

But today I read this on your blog:

And frankly, I’m kind of sick of all the whining. A lot of journalists have been sitting around lamenting their losses instead of thinking up ways to fix their situation.

I understand that being innovative and adventurous is a scary and vulnerable move because no one really knows what the best way to deal with this, but what are the options? We can’t just let our industry crumble to pieces while we get booted from our jobs and move into cardboard boxes.

When I returned from the meeting, a few people made jokes about me changing my major. I don’t like these jokes, but typically, I casually laugh them off. Today I said, “Oh, it’s staying. I’m not dedicated to the medium so much as I’m dedicated to reporting news. I don’t care about the medium. I care about informing the people.”

It is, indeed, worth fighting for. And a can-do attitude is by far the most powerful ally you can have. Stick to it.

(Props to Jay Rosen for the pointer.)


I suppose a good old-fashioned round of whining about how things used to be better before the Internet screwed everything up, bitching about how management should have done something different, and blaming everybody outside the newsroom for 40 years of declining newspaper readership would be better? No, I think I'll stick with optimism and energy. I'm not listening to people who say what they can't do, won't do and don't wanna do because it's not the way we used to do it.

To quote Jimmy Carter: "We've got to stop crying and start sweating, stop talking and start walking, stop cursing and start praying." We need to shut up, roll up our sleeves and get to work.

Lord, don't use Jimmy Carter Beacon o' Uselessness but Brother Full of Good Intentions. I don't believe the plight of journalism is that hopeless. Go, Jessica. And if you don't like her blog or find no value in it, why read it? You can always tell the castrated idiot by his threatened response to words. To think, from a bunch of journalists.

Ryan Sholin calls on us to declare independence from the curmudgeon tribe and boils down the curmudgeon reaction to DaSilva: "You naive kid, stick around this business long enough and you’ll be as stubborn and immobile as we are. You’ll never work in this town again." I note that much of the curmudgeon party line amounts to "yeah, they tried that somewhere else and it didn't work, so I'm going to do my best to undermine it here." No strategy can succeed if the team doesn't execute. If you sit around and bitch and snipe and undermine, and then the plan fails, you're responsible for the failure. And for the jobs of your fellow workers. Those of us who work in the online space are particularly sensitive to this. We've had to deal with it for years: the sales rep who won't sell the Internet, the sports desk guy who's "too busy" to publish stories to the Web, the blowhard columnist who goes on about how blogs are all trash, the editor who wants commenting shut down because he doesn't like what people are saying.

You have admire the young people that still want careers with newspapers. It's not that info about the troubles isn't out there, but still they come. I think I have witnessed each of the reactions you pointed to in the "boiling it down" comment. I used to just shake my head, sigh "oh me," and leave them be. The growing problem is many of those people are now being asked to step up and get involved in "integrated" newsrooms. It's another "oh me" situation, but I'm not saying it. With encouragement and coaxing, however, many of the "old guard" can (and do) take the baby steps that will give them the confidence to be bolder and then one day it sort of all falls into place. Others, unfortunately, just can't or won't make the leapt. I've also found it ironic that many of the people who whine the most about their jobs, didn't think a minute about company buyout offers. There was no way they were leaving. Who'd do their whining?